The Sudanese military’s reprehensible decision to bomb a civilian residential area has left the country on the brink of a “full-scale civil war” that could spill over into regional countries.
The UN and others are warning that the humanitarian crisis created by infighting among the ruling military junta and those loyal to a rebel general could worsen the situation, where the last three months have seen at least 3,000 civilians killed and 6,000 wounded, along with credible reports of sexual violence and ethnically targeted attacks that could meet the legal definition of crimes against humanity.
Apart from 700,000-plus refugees, over three million people have also become internally displaced by the fighting, which has seen both sides violate international law by forcing civilians out of their homes and setting up bases in residential areas.
The air strike took place in Omdurman, the country’s largest population centre and a sister city for the capital, Khartoum, and was so egregious that even the government had to immediately admit what had happened.
It comes as the rebel Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continue to make gains in Khartoum and elsewhere, despite lacking an air force.
Both sides have significant foreign backing, thanks to interest in Sudan’s resource riches, and about 200 serving Egyptian soldiers were even captured by the RSF in April.
Interestingly, supposedly pro-democracy Western powers have been relatively silent on the human rights violations by government forces, mostly blaming the RSF and its allies as being responsible.
It is unclear whether this is because both sides are effectively arms of the same military, or whether army chief and de facto national chief Gen Abdel Fattah al- Burhan is a more acceptable option as dictator than the militia fighter-turned RSF leader Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who goes by the mononym Hemedti.
What is clear, however, is that neither of them appears to have the interests of the Sudanese people in mind, as they plunge the country closer to a crisis that could make the War in Darfour pale in comparison.